Bernard Fanning brings big gigs back
LIVE music will return to an Australian arena for the first time in nine months as Bernard Fanning, Matt Corby, Ocean Alley and Jack River join the line-up for two big concerts in Sydney.
About 6000 fans will be allowed at each of the Greatest Southern Nights concerts at the Qudos Bank Arena as a finale to the month-long series of gigs backed by the NSW Government to kickstart the live entertainment industry after the crippling pandemic shutdown.
The first gig on November 28 will feature Sydney rockers Ocean Alley with special guests
Jack River, Ruby Fields and Jack Botts.
Bernard Fanning, Matt Corby and Merci, Mercy will perform on December 5, with both shows the biggest indoor events held in the country since mass gatherings were banned.
The COVIDSafe events in a venue which can hold up to 21,000 people come after the ANZ Stadium next door was allowed to host up to 40,000 sports fans at the NRL Grand Final last month.
Fanning, who hasn't played a gig since February - with the exception of the virtual One Night Lonely reunion with Powderfinger in May - said the concerts were vital not only for fans starved of live entertainment but thousands of workers who have been out of work since March.
Many couldn't get financial support from government packages because of the casual nature of their employment.
"I am keen to get out there and play and I want to help people get some work and for the punters to have a bit of fun," he said.
"The concerts will also give people confidence we can get back to concerts safely."
Fanning will be giving employment to more people than he expected as Queensland's border closure to Sydneysiders have thrown a spanner in the works for some of his band members.
While his Brisbane-based musicians could travel to Sydney, they would be subject to quarantine when they returned.
And his Sydney-based band members aren't able to travel to Queensland for his Sandstone Point Hotel gig on November 21 without a 14-day hotel quarantine stay which the musicians couldn't afford.
"There are hurdles you have to jump over and that's the reality at the moment," Fanning said.
"Crews and musicians who are contractors went from 100 per cent to zero income and they can't afford the time or money to quarantine."
Fanning said it was imperative to get live entertainment back on the road or the music industry risks losing the expertise of thousands of highly-skilled technicians who would be forced to seek work in other sectors.
"People are being forced to completely change careers because there has been no work and if they don't come back, there may not be enough behind-the-scenes people to support tours when they get back up and running," he said.
"That hasn't been factored into the economic reality of what has happened to the industry."
Jack River, the artistic alter ego of musician and festival organiser Holly Rankin, will warm up for her set with Ocean Alley with her own gig in Milton on the NSW South coast as part of the Great Southern Nights series of gigs this month.
Rankin was determined to get gigs back into regional areas which had lost all their summer income because of the bushfire crisis and then the pandemic.
Being able to play to 6000 people at Qudos Bank Arena a week later "is massively exciting."
But the socially-distanced, seated show format in the post-COVID world will take some getting used to by both performers and fans.
"If 30,000 people can go to the football, I think it's time for 6000 people to be able to watch music together," she said.
"No one wants to take unnecessary risks so you can sing along to a song but at the same time, this is so important for people, particularly those finishing year 12 whose rite of passage is often going to a festival and they can't do that this year."
Promoters TEG Live and Live Nation teamed up to stage the Greatest Southern Nights concerts after months of negotiations with the state government to safely bring music crowds back into venues.
German scientists have found after a study of a concert they put on in August the risk of spreading Covid-19 at such an event was "low to very low" if there's good ventilation, strict hygiene rules, and a limited audience.
Tickets for Ocean Alley, Jack River, Ruby Fields and Jack Botts concert on November 28 at Qudos Bank Arena go on sale on Monday at 10am from $91.60 via www.ticketek.com.au
The Bernard Fanning, Matt Corby and Merci, Mercy gig on December 5 is on sale from 10am on Tuesday for $99.90 per ticket via www.ticketek.com.au
Originally published as Bernard Fanning brings big gigs back